Tributes

New York Times Editorial

 

 

 New York Times Editorial 1976

Custodian of the Planet


"The resignation of Maurice F. Strong as executive director of the United Nations Environment Program leaves that promising agency without the services of the man who more than any other brought it into being. His appointment to direct Canada's energy program speaks well for the determination of Prime Minister Trudeau's Government to reconcile the need for energy with the protection of the environment, but it can only be viewed as a severe loss to a global movement that has hardly begun to hit its stride.

Perceptive people have long recognized the threat to the planet's integrity from any extensive pollution of the air, the seas, the forests or the stratosphere anywhere on or over the earth. But Mr. Strong was the first to seize the opportunity to act on that perception.

With vast enthusiasm, he traveled the world to persuade governments -- especially the doubtful government of the new emerging states -- to take part in the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, a project which he helped to originate. He steered that gathering of 112 nations in Stockholm through the shoals of suspicion and sovereignty. He accepted the assignment, inevitably offered to him, to head the first global agency, born of that conference, and he has given it his dynamic leadership ever since.

Mr. Strong, a Canadian oil man before he took office in the UN, is not an easy optimist about the world he has worked so hard to protect. But he has now convinced millions of people that "if we act as custodians and caretakers of this plant, we may yet inherit the earth."

As its first official custodian, he will not, one feels certian, permanently confine his caretaking to a single country."